Minister highlights efforts to change lives through tourism
SEEN as the driving force behind sustainable socioeconomic development, tourism in South Africa has experienced a significant growth in the sector and it should be used in a way to make the country one of the world’s top tourist destinations.
Speaking at an event hosted by Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU) Unit for Economics, Development and Tourism last night, Tourism Minister Thokozile Xasa said tourism should be perceived as something that had the potential to change people’s lives and create stability through employment.
“It is exciting times for tourism in South Africa because we are at a time that we can make things practical and accessible to everyone,” Xasa said.
“It is possible to take the country out of its technical recession we are in through tourism.”
Delivering her keynote address, titled Sustainable Tourism as a Driver of Socio-Economic Development, she said a broader look at tourism was needed to examine other areas the sector could benefit from as identified by the government through its nine-point plan for economic growth launched in 2015, including agriculture and agricultural processing, small business enterprises and the oceans economy.
“This will see tourism venturing into different economic aspects [such as] the ocean economy where we have already identified products and what we want to do,” she said.
Xasa said her department was also looking at how to put more emphasis on destination development and marketing of the country.
“In the next five years we want to see five million more tourists arriving, four million international tourists and one million local tourists. We want to keep them and make sure we have new products along with the old ones we already have.”
Skills and skills development continued to be important alongside enterprise development for the tourism industry, which would bring broad-based benefits to different communities.
“Sustainable tourism is a commitment the industry has made to reduce the carbon footprint and preserve natural attractions – all our products are going green.”
NMU executive dean of arts Professor Rose Boswell, who represented the institution’s management at the event, said it was an honour for the university’s department of tourism and the faculty of business and economic sciences to have Xasa at the event.
Other delegates at the event included local industry role-players, public sector representatives including Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality chief whip Werner Senekal, DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism head Mandlakazi Skefile.
GOING GREEN: Tourism Minister Thokozile Xasa speaks at NMU